The intestinal epithelium is a complex tissue monolayer composed of regionally and functionally specialized intestinal epithelial cells. Given epithelial exposure to harsh and varied luminal conditions, epithelial cells continuously regenerate to sustain the barrier against environmental factors, including microbial invaders. Multipotent intestinal stem cells are essential to epithelial regenerative capacity, generating a programed mixture of absorptive and secretory cell types. Mechanisms of epithelial growth and differentiation in response to endogenous or external stressors remain under investigation. In this review, we highlight the zebrafish, Danio rerio, as a potent model of intestinal epithelial development and function. We describe epithelial composition and key regulators of epithelial renewal to promote the zebrafish as an investigative tool to study epithelial development and growth. We also highlight areas for discovery, particularly in the context of stress-dependent regulation of epithelial function.

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